Author: Bob

Hi, I'm Bob and it's me on the avatar :) I was 8 or 9 when me and my friend recorded and edited our first ever video in Windows Movie Maker. Ever since then we shared a mutual passion for videography. When I was in secondary school (14 years old) I decided it was time to start a video business. My dad helped me a lot. I taught him the basics of shooting video with a DSLR and editing it. This is our reel from 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4RQkIXgps0 (It looks pretty lame now, but back then it was something) We've shot numerous corporate videos, events, weddings, did greenscreen work and many more. Now I'd like to share what I've learned up to now with you :)
Why should I start making online videos?

Why should I start making online videos?

Howdy! I assume that you felt that tingle. The tingle of excitement connected to the thought of making a video and uploading it to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram or a different platform. You found yourself asking “Why should I start making online videos?”. And I’ve got the answers below:

You’ll have lots of fun with your friends

Making online videos is a lot of fun! Especially when have good company. It’s better than doing it alone. Of course, it will take twice as long, but at the end of the day the sense of doing something creative in a community is worth the time spent. And you’ll laugh your head off.

soldier kicking a log in a forest
Picture taken on set of this video. Moments before my friend kicked a log mid-air. He said the pain was real
boy wearing boxing gloves
Scene from this video. The guys were sleeping on the floor waiting for the air raid-siren to stop. We didn’t notice that one of our friends was wearing boxing gloves in the scene and so it made it to the final video.

It’ll give you a reason to do crazy stuff

Tim Ferriss in his book called The 4 Hour Workweek used the term Adventure Deficit Disorder. What he meant by this is that adults tend to fall into the mundane routine of working, eating and sleeping. Therefore they don’t seek for excitement and are chronically unhappy and unfulfilled.

Sad, sad people

What does this have in common with our main question?

“Why should I start making online videos?”

person in a trash bag on set
Three of my friends. One of them is holding a sprinkler. The second one is inside a trash bag and the third one is digging a hole in the ground. Don’t worry, it was just for a short film

What if I told you that making online videos is a great way to escape your comfort zone. You may do something crazy once and have it on the Internet to rewatch whenever you feel like it! So why not spare one afternoon for making a car chasis out of cardboard and going to a drive thru in it? Or why not sled down a ski slope? That’s what me and my friend Brigit Storm once did.

By the way – Brigit is a phaenomenal musician.

Check out her work at brigitstorm.com

It’ll boost your creativity

We hardly ever do creative stuff on a day to day basis. Making online videos is a great way to practice problem solving and improve your creativity. In fact – that’s what this blog is all about!!!

You’ll improve your skills as a storyteller, camera operator and video editor

The first video you make will most likely be so so. But as people, we learn best on our own mistakes and the mistakes you made in your first video won’t be present in the next one. Filmmaking is a fun process of learning. I promise that people will marvel at your works with their jaws down on the floor if only you don’t loose patience on your way.

soldier carrying wounded man
Notice that the soldier being carried is wearing sport shoes. What a fail…
This scene taught me to pay attention to every detail of every actor’s clothing

You’ll create an online portfolio for future freelance jobs

The videos you upload to Youtube will most likely be seen by a lot of people. And the videos you’ll spend the most time on could be the ones you’ll send to companies offering to shoot something similar for them. Why not make money doing something you enjoy?

In this day and era, where online marketing is the key to sales, most small businesses long for a trendy, well paced video. Why? Because it creates an amicable image of the company. That’s why the videos you create for pure fun may be the most valuable ones in your portfolio!

You’ll feel fulfilled, and less afraid of death

Have you ever felt afraid of death? Everyone has. It is a hard topic, but realizing that we have no control over the flow of time is kinda intimidating. We, humans are control freaks. And time is one variable in our life which we have no control over. We, however, do have control over how we spend the time we have. The videos you upload on the internet will most likely be there long after you. So why not create something amazing?

You’ll get tons of feedback

“Why should I start making online videos?” – because of how easy it is to get feedback!

The Internet is one of the most groundbreaking tools for artists. Never before has it been this easy to exhibit your works to the entire world! Moreover, never before could you get your audience’s feedback this fast! How can you not be a content creator yet, having such a wonderful and FREE tool?

Your videos may go viral (and some probably will)

Back in high school we had a task to perform a presentation on what to do in case of radioactive contamination. Me and my friends however decided to shoot an instructional video on the subject. For some reason the video now gets over 600 views a month and is currently at 31.000 views. For a fun and short high school video! Here it is:

This video was probably targeted right, since apparently a lot of people are searching for “What to do in case of a nuclear emergency”

You may be able to turn a passion into a lifestyle.

Still not convinced? Still asking yourself

“Why should I start making online videos?”

What if I told you that it’s really easy to turn your storytelling, video shooting and editing skills into gold? People are willing to pay for capturing important moments of their lifes and videos, which they can use for marketing their product, service or company. Start learning today, and live off your skills in 3 years. Success doesn’t come overnight, but 3 years is more than a realistic time span.

That’s all for this week. I really appreciate that you made it all the way here ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next week!

Bob

How to make a puddle of blood that expands

How to make a puddle of blood that expands

Have you ever wanted to shoot a scene where one of your actors gets shot in the head or trips and in the following scene they are lying on the floor in a puddle of blood? In this article you’ll learn how to make the “puddle of blood” effect at home!

More specifically, you’ll learn how to make a puddle of blood that expands as if the actor was bleeding out.

What you’ll need

You’ll need a few particular things to pull off this effect:

  • Fake blood
  • A rubber hose
  • Hot glue
  • An empty plastic bottle (at least 1l of volume)
  • A pair of scissors or a knife
  • And an actor who doesn’t mind getting their hair and clothes dirty

The fake blood

There are 2 ways of getting fake blood:

Buying it off the Internet

You can easily get fake blood from Amazon. It comes in different sized containers. Make sure you choose a product that isn’t gelatine-based. Why? Because you don’t want it to thicken over time.

Gallon of fake blood
Check out this one I found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EUnXnS

Making the blood yourself

Preparing fake blood is a simple process. It can be done in many different ways. Here’s a video by Thaitrick I found on the subject:

For the purpose of making a puddle of blood under your actor’s head, make sure your blood isn’t too thick. It should be as runny as in the video. Otherwise it would be hard to get the blood through the hose.

Fun fact: Alfred Hitchcock used Boso Chocolate Syrup as fake blood in his movie “Psycho”. After all, the film was black and white.

The dispenser for fake blood

Now this is the fun part for all of you engineers! You’ll make a device, which will make our pond of blood slowly grow.

For this part you’ll need :

Scissors, plastic bottle, hot glue and a hose
  • A rubber hose – the smaller its diameter, the slower the flow
  • A big plastic bottle (at least 1l)
  • A pair of scissors or a knife
  • A hot glue gun
  • A rod of hot glue

Plug the hot glue gun in before the assembly, since it takes a while for it to heat up.

How to assemble it step by step:

First of all, empty the plastic bottle and cut it approximately in half of its length.

Cutting a plastic bottle in a striped t-shirt
This will be the top of your funnel

Secondly, make a hole in the bottle cap. Make sure it’s at least as big as the inner diameter of the hose. Otherwise the blood flow will be sluggish.

Making a hole in a bottle cap
Put the cap on a surface and push one end of the scissors on its middle. Don’t do it against your hand!

Thirdly, cut the rubber hose to the desired length – 1 meter will work just fine for closeup shots of the head. In contrast, use a longer piece if you’d like to show the entire actor lying on the floor.

Cutting a rubber hose with scissors
And snip!

Finally, glue one end of the hose to your bottle cap. Above all, bear in mind not to get glue inside the hole. It will block the blood flow. If, however, you managed to get the glue in there, just cut that end of the hose, get another bottle cap and try again!

Hot gluing a rubber hose to a bottle cap
Stick the hose inside the hole and seal the connection with hot glue. Using the dispenser will be cleaner if it doesn’t leak.

That’s it! Now you have your very own blood dispenser for creating puddles of blood under your actors.

How to make the puddle

Using the dispenser is pretty straightforward. It is essentially a funnel for your fake blood.

Firstly, attach the hose to the back of your actor’s clothes (duct tape comes in handy) – or better, run it through their clothes. This way the hose will be hidden even better. Certainly, the end of the hose should be under your actor’s head – that’s where the puddle will form.

transparent hose taped to the back of the head
Duct tape sticks well to the skin and is easy to remove – if the pieces ale small

Next, get somebody to hold the funnel up in the air. Another person should pour the fake blood inside. You may only need one person to do it all, but if you bought the gallon of blood which I mentioned above, then it may be a little tricky.

Pouring fake blood into a funnel
I used raspberry juice, since I didn’t have any fake blood lying around.

Eventually, the blood should be coming out of the other end of the hose. If, however, the flow is too slow, try blowing inside the bottle. It will solve the problem.

Fake blood splatter on the floor
Unfortunately nobody at my house wanted to get dirty for this effect. Maybe that’s because I used the sweet & sticky raspberry juice?
fake blood puddle on dry ground
The hose being transparent makes it easy to predict when to say “Action!”

Did you like this trick? I can assure you that it works, since I used it for a school video once. I will update the article if I find it someday.

Untill next week!

~Bob

Smartphone video – how to get killer image out of your smartphone?

Smartphone video – how to get killer image out of your smartphone?

Do your smartphone videos look unprofessional? Would you like to shoot better footage with it? This article will teach you how to improve the video quality of your phone.

Audio

Clear audio is what makes a good smartphone video. It’s more pleasurable to watch content with bad quality of the image, but crystal clear audio than with good image but bad audio.

In the end, it’s often the audio that gets the message through in a video, right?

You won’t get good audio from your smartphone if you just point the camera at yourself and start recording.

And it’s not that the microphone is bad. Even the best microphone won’t record good audio if it’s on the other side of the room! The closer the microphone is to your mouth, the better the sound will be. In the world of audio, this is called the Proximity effect

proximity effect
Look at how close the singer is to the microphone. This way her voice can be heard clearly, and the microphone picks up almost no background noise.

If you’d like to get clearer audio – move the microphone closer to yourself (your subject).

But how to accomplish that using a smartphone?

You won’t get good audio for your smartphone video with the internal microphone, unless you’re okay with your face occupying the whole frame!

However, let’s assume that you’re not okay with it and start looking for alternative solutions. I can think of four:

Get another smartphone ($$$)

Borrow it from somebody or use your old one. Then open the voice recorder app. Next, set the recording quality to the highest and voi’la! You’ve got a wireless audio recorder which you can hold next to your mouth. You could also buy yourself a spongy wind filter (like this one) for cheap to look like a real interviewer.

On the other hand, there is a con to this approach. Namely, you’ll have to synchronize audio with video in post. This, however, isn’t that much of a pain in the neck if you record continuously. However, if you ever have trouble with syncing your audio with video – try Red Giant’s PluralEyes.

Red Giant didn’t pay me to promote their products ๐Ÿ™‚

Use your smartphone’s earphone mic ($)

white earphones with a microphone for smartphone video
The little hole on the right is the microphone.

Your smartphone earphones have a microphone. Certainly, it will be used as the main microphone when you record video. Just connect the earphones to your smartphone and boom! You’ve got a lapel microphone. Just tape it to your body under your clothes. If the earphone cable is too short for you, simply get a second smartphone, just like in the paragraph above.

Get a lavalier microphone ($$)

Lavalier mics, lapel mics – these are the little ones TV presenters wear. They are almost invisible if hidden correctly.

How to make sure an external microphone will work with my smartphone?
lavalier microphone for smartphone video
I once bought this one for cheap and I haven’t had any problems with it ever since.

You can get ones that can connect to your smartphone via a TRRS jack plug. This is the plug which your smartphone earphones utilize. Not only does it provide connection for the left and right audio channel, but also for the microphone. This is exactly the connector, which TRRS lavalier mics use to communicate with your smartphone. To check out the microphone I use with my smartphone on Amazon click here.

TRS and TRRS
Left – TRRS jack plug (this one will work with your smartphone) Right – TRS plug

Get an XLR microphone and a device with an XLR input ($$$)

XLR is the audio industry standard connection for microphones

XLR connection allows for better quality, less noisy audio. Therefore, if you’re one of the people who prefer futureproofing their gear to temporary DIY solutions – get an XLR microphone. It could be one of these three:

  1. Dynamic
  2. Shotgun
  3. Condenser

Which one you choose depends strictly on how you’re planning to use it.

  • Get a dynamic microphone for street polls
  • Get a shotgun microphone for
    • filmmaking
    • online videos, where you’d like to hide the microphone outside of the frame
  • Get a condenser microphone for podcasts singing or recording instruments

Of course, if you already have one of these then nothing stops you from using it for different purposes. Get creative ๐Ÿ™‚

However, keep in mind that if you’d like to record audio through XLR – you will need either an audio interface or an external recorder. For instance, I use this cheap-o one from Amazon. To clarify, It is not the cheapest one from Behringer. Therefore, it already has a metal housing.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 audio interface
Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

Lighting your scene

Good lighting is the key to shooting great smartphone video. The sensor in your smartphone camera is tiny. As a result, it needs lots of light to produce quality video. Keep that in mind when you choose a spot for recording.

Avoid shooting in your basement with the lights off. Neither does shooting under a broken street light during the night seem a particularly good idea.

Instead, try one of these to light up you face:

  • lights of a storefront (Used for example by JR Alli in his New York City – Don’t Blink)
  • the window in your room
  • sunlight
  • a flashlight (if you’re shooting in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night)
  • the lights by the mirror in your toilet
  • the light from your laptop screen
  • a cheap softbox kit (like this one I found on Amazon: click here)
  • a work light which you may already have in your garage
softbox for smartphone video
Softboxes are a simple way to professionally light any scene

Stabilization of a smartphone video

Next step is to figure out how to make your footage stable. You’ll face the following problems:

  • First of all, it is hard to introduce camera shake when you’re shooting with a heavily rigged RED camera. It is, however, relatively easy to shake a light camera. Therefore, you’ll need to add weight to your smartphone or keep it mounted to something.
  • Secondly, lectronic image stabilization does not look good. Therefore, if your device has optical image stabilization – use it!
  • Finally, shooting with wider lenses equals less shaky video. Try out some of these cheap clip-on wide angle converters. This is what they look like.

Click here to check out our article on the topic of DIY stabilization!

But, if you want even smoother footage, an electronic gimbal will give you just what you need. Check out this one that’s made specifically for smartphones!

Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal for smartphone video
Zhiyun Smooth 4

External app for smartphone video

If your standard camera app doesn’t provide a lot of functionality – feel free to betray it. Look through the Play Store/App Store. There is a ton of filmmaking apps that are flooded with great options like:

  • Manual exposure controls
  • Manual focusing
  • Focus peaking
  • False color
  • Flat color profile

The most popular app for shooting smartphone video (at the time of writing this article) is FiLMiC Pro. You can get it for both Android and iOS. I used it on a Samsung Galaxy S3 a few years ago, and it was a huuge step up from the default camera app. This isn’t a sponsored ad ๐Ÿ™‚

Post-production

Feel free to get creative in your editing software, but keep one thing in mind:

Smartphone video is usually heavily compressed. Consequently, it is no good for color grading.

color grading smartphone video
Heavy color grading your smartphone video often results in a noisy image

If you need to color correct some clips – do it. However, don’t puch the sliders and curves too far, because you’ll stars seeing artefacts and digital noise pretty quickly.

Did you leave the electronic image stabilization OFF? Great! Now you may be able to get some sweet results using software stabilization. I recommend you to try out the Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro. It does a great job stabilizing shaky footage! But make sure that no object are passing through the shot. These usually spoil the effect ๐Ÿ™

In conclusion, smartphone video can look astonishing if done correctly. And doing it correctly is just a matter of following some simple steps! Come back to this article before you shoot your next smartphone video.

See you next week!

Bob

Cover Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

10 best cameras for Youtube videos

10 best cameras for Youtube videos

Are you planning to up your video game on Youtube? Is the video quality what’s limiting your growth? Or are you simply looking for a camera to start recording first videos? Below are 10 best cameras for youtube – for every pricepoint.

Entry level cameras:

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

You may often not realize, that the smartphone you’re carrying around in your pocket may shoot great video. Samsung Galaxy S6 was one of the first smartphones to be capable of 4K video recording. Unfortunately, usually smartphones need lots of light to produce a decent image. However, keep in mind that EVERY camera needs decent lighting to produce sharp image. Just like the human eye cannot see details of objects in the dark. Still, if you’re planning to shoot mostly outside or in well-lit scenes – start out with the smartphone you have. You don’t need the fanciest gear when you’re beginning. You need to start with whatever you have!

Check out a video I once shot with a Galaxy S7:

Galaxy S6 would give the same results

You can get pretty good deals on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, since they are a little old now. Click here to check the price on Amazon. They both support 4K 30p and 720 120p. The latter means super slow motion goodness ๐Ÿ™‚

Canon Rebel DSLRs

Canon EOS Rebel T5

The first Canon DSLR to have the 1080p recording capabilities was the Canon T2i (550D). Since we’ve already entered the 4K era, it may be a limitation to the quality of your videos.

Why should I get it if it’s so obsolete?

Cheap DSLRs are a great way to enter the manual exposure world of videography.

Because of the interchangeable lenses, audio jack input, manual focusing and many more, it was the closest you could get to a full-size cinema camera. Therefore, ever since T2i came out Canon DSLRs were widely used among amateur filmmakers.

They can be hacked!

With the Magic Lantern hack, these babies turn into serious film cameras! It allows for:

  • Shooting RAW Video
  • Headphone audio monitoring
  • Focus peaking
  • Live view histogram
  • Automatic follow focus
  • You can even play Arkanoid on mine ๐Ÿ˜€

All hacking is done at your own risk!

Old ones are so so cheap!

Canon has already discontinued the production of their older DSLRs models, so you should be able to find a used T2i or T3i for cheap. Aim for the T3i or anything above, since they have one of the most useful qualities a camera for Youtube may have – a flip-out screen!

A word or two about the internal microphone…

The internal microphone is pretty useless in this camera. Therefore, I reccomend using an external microphone for any production that requires clear audio. Fortunately Canon equipped their DSLRs with a 3,5mm audio input which allows for connecting on-camera shotgun microphones like the RODE Videomic with Rycote Lyre Mount – click here for our review of it

I’ve owned both the T2i and the T3i, and I can say that they are quite reliable video cameras.

Here is a video I shot for the same company with my Canon T3i:

The lenses used were Canon IS STM 10-18 f4.5-5.6 and Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8

Gopro HERO 7

In the picture: GoPro HERO 7 Black Edition

Are you keen on extreme sports? Do you go swimming with great white sharks every sunday afternoon and base-jump from Dubai’s tallest skyscrapers in your lunch breaks?

If so, then this is the perfect camera for you.

GoPros provide great versitality due to the amount of mounts you may attach them to. Just keep in mind that they may not be the best for capturing audio with their internal microphones. Therefore, it’s the best to equip yourself with an external microphone if you’re planning to record people talking.

Which generation should you get?

HERO 6

In HERO 6 Gopro added the super smooth I-will-replace-your-gimbal kind of internal stabilization. It is pretty sick, you should check it out!

HERO 5

Gopro HERO 5 was the first one to have a built in touch screen. You could however buy an “LCD BacPac” extension for the previous generations.

HERO 4

If you would like to futureproof your gear, get at least the HERO 4 BLACK, since it was the first one to shoot 4K 30 frames per second. The 4K in the HERO 3 BLACK was unusable, since it was recorded at 15 frames per second

Older models

If you’re planning to buy a Gopro only for some occasional action shots, then look through craiglist for second hand ones. Electronics does depreciate lightning-fast!

Here is a video I shot with a hero 3 silver and a hero 4 silver (equivalent to hero 3+ black) with my friend Ola:

Mid-priced cameras for Youtube and more:

Panasonic Lumix G7

Panasonic Lumix G7 in “USA Silver”

Is the Lumix GH5 your dream camera?

Lumix G7 is its cheaper alternative. It fortunately has the same lens mount, which makes transitioning from the G7 to GH5 a piece of cake! With Panasonic Lumix G7 you get 4K recording capabilities and a swivel LCD screen, which will come in handy if you’re planning to record yourself. Shockingly, Lumix G7 does better in low light than GH5!

Unfortunately, you don’t get access to V-log, which is the flattest picture profile in the GH4 and GH5.

Check it out on Amazon here.

Sony A6000

The Sony A6000

Sony A6000 is a compact mirrorless camera released in 2014. It offers 1080p video capabilities in 60 frames per second. I would still recommend the Lumix G7, since it targets the similar price point (Costs exactly this much) and has much more to offer.

Why should I get it if the G7 is more versatile?

Still, if you prefer Sony cameras – the best camera for youtube is the one you’re most comfortable with. And the A6000 may be a lighter alternative to a heavy Canon DSLR that I mentioned above. All in all – your first camera should teach you the basics and this one should get the job done

Canon M50

This is what the Canon EOS M50 looks like.

Canon M50 is the first mirrorless camera made by Canon to shoot 4K video. It is also the first consumer-grade camera they made that shoots 4K video (Canon 1DC was a little to pricey for amateur videographers). It uses the EF-M lens mount by Canon, but fortunately you can attach you favourite EF lenses to it using a converter. It’s a good all-round camera for photos and video.

I have a Canon Rebel. Why would I switch to the M50?

It’s a good idea to buy it if you are planning on switching to 4K from a Canon DSLR and don’t want to sell your lenses

Check out its price on Amazon here.

Sony A6300

Sony Alpha A6300 looks almost identical to the A6000

The A6300 is a refreshed A6000. Sony added 4K video recording. It also shoots 1080p at 120 frames per second, which translates to sick slow mo shots of your significant other slipping on a banana peel!

You can find it here on Amazon.

The most expensive ones, still reasonable for Youtube videos:

BMPCC 4K

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was once a small form factor camera for intependent filmmakers that made it possible to shoot RAW Video with no firmware hacks.

In the picture: the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

Keep in mind that you need a fast memory card for that. Moreover, RAW Video craves for memory space. A 32 GB card would fit 10 minutes of RAW Video shot with the non-4K BMPCC. Therefore, make sure your cards are big enough to shoot comfortably.

Even the first BMPCC shot ProRes 422 natively, which still is an awesome codec. The original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera isn’t obsolete yet, as long as you’re fine with shooting 1080p.

Actually, the footage looks outstanding even when you upscale it to 1440p

What about the 4K Pocket Cinema Camera?

With BMPCC 4K you essentially get the same functionality, but the video resolution now tops out at 4K. All in all, it is the only camera you’ll ever need to shoot a professional short film. It is the best camera for much more than Youtube videos. Still at a reasonable pricepoint.

Check out the BMPCC 4K on Amazon here.

Panasonic Lumix GH5

The GH5 is a small form factor, but killer camera.

We’ve already recommended the Lumix G7. But what if you’d like to take your filmmaking to the next level? Panasonic GH series cameras introduce a lot of useful features, which you won’t find on the G7 like:

  • functioning HDMI output (the one on G7 stops outputting video when you start recording)
  • magnesium alloy body
  • high framerate shooting (even 180 fps with the GH5)
  • 6K anamorphic recording, which utilises the whole sensor (GH5 only)

So it’s one of the best cameras for Youtube?

It is definetely used by a lot of content creators.

You can check its current price here.

Sony A7S

The master of low-light himself!

The A7S and A7S II by Sony are the best consumer cameras you can get for low light video! It is truly astonishing how little noise there is in the image they produce with high ISO settings.

Why shouldn’t I get it if I’m just starting out?

Unfortunately they are really pricey (Check the price here) and the first generation (A7S) couldn’t even record 4K video internally. You would need an external video recorder, to which you could feed the uncompressed video signal from the camera.

But which one should I get?

Don’t get too confused with what camera to get.

All in all it is just a tool. The best camera for Youtube is the one you’re familiar with. You should get the one you’re comfortable with, even if it means that it doesn’t shoot 4K or shoot fireworks when you take off the lens cap. Focus on the functionalities your content would really benefit from, like

  • 120 fps video for extreme sports
  • flip-out screen for vlogging
  • good low light performance for shooting cities at night

And if you’re just starting out – maybe invest in some lighting and audio gear to get the most out of the camera you have?

How to prepare for shooting a corporate video?

How to prepare for shooting a corporate video?

If you want to prepare for shooting a corporate video, but don’t know what to begin with – this tutorial is for you. Below are 6 steps to prepare for shooting a corporate video:

1. Meet your client in person

The first step for a successful preparation should be arranging a meeting. If possible – meet at the location where you’ll be shooting. This way your client will find it easier to explain what they want to show in the video.

Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

You’ll also be able to plan some of the shots already. Therefore you’ll know if the rooms are too dark and need additional lighting or if the spaces are very tight and require a wider lens.

The human eye accomodates to poor lighting conditions. We don’t notice subtle changes of brightness. However, our cameras do. Therefore, I always take my camera with me to check the lighting conditions during the first meeting. Crucial when preparing for shooting a corporate video!

Take a piece of paper and a pen with you. No matter how good you think your memory is – you will forget some detail. Shooting a corporate video for the first time may overwhelm you, since it’s such an important task. Noting on your piece of paper will make it less scary. Additionaly, it will give you the feeling of being in control. Thet’s because having planned 60% of the video with your client – there’s only 40% that you’ll have to come up with yourself.

2. Find a few potential songs you could use in the corporate video

Go through some free music libraries and try to find something interesting. You may also negotiate the budget and buy a licensed track. Remember – a piece of music that’s good for editing video to does not neccessarily have to sound great on its own.

Photo by Namroud Gorguis on Unsplash

You don’t need to like the taste of fish to enjoy the taste of sushi. A sushi roll is a composition of different ingredients and has a taste of its own.

My girlfiend – Wiki

From now on I will refer to the quote above as the “Sushi Phenomenon”

Try to close your eyes and see the location where you’ll be shooting with the track playing in the background. Maybe some interesting cuts come to your mind? If you feel a thrill, then that’s the track you were looking for.

When it comes to the choice of music, there are two paths you could follow:

  1. Don’t send them the track for acceptance, since the composition of music and video follows the Sushi Phenomenon. Risk them wanting you to change the music. That means re-editing the whole video.
  2. Send them the track for acceptance. You will eventually find a track that they approve. This way your client will be less likely to change their mind about the track.

I prefer the former, since it gets you editing much sooner. Moreover, there are situations where your client is dissatisfied with how the song they chose or approved works with the corporate video.

3. Prepare a shotlist and a timeline for the corporate video

If you don’t know yet what a shotlist is – it’s an ordered list of all the shots you will use in your video. Try to be precise describing them. You don’t have to stick to all of your ideas on set, but writing as much as you can think of is beneficial for your time efficiency on location. That is, the more you write down, the clearer your vision of the finished corporate video will be. Therefore, it will take you less time to come up with alternative solution when something doesn’t work out.

I advise you to draw something I call a “timeline”.

As video editors we tend to have a better understanding of chronology when we see a timeline. Just like in our video editing software.

Try drawing your shotlist as if it was a project on a timeline:

  • Let you shots be represented as rectangles
  • Below them draw rectangles which will represent sound effects and music

This way you will know which shots are really neccessary for your corporate video and what sound effects you will need to record at the location (or find on the Internet)

4. Make sure you have all the gear you need

… and pack it the day before! It is very easy to forget something crucial like a battery or an SD card at home. Therefore, packing your gear the day before saves you stress.

Photo by Jeff Hopper on Unsplash

It is also the last chance to realize that you indeed don’t have a certain piece of gear that you really need. If it is vital you still have some time to borrow it from a good friend or buy it at a local store for future projects. However, if you’ll be able to get by without it, this is the time to re-plan the parts of your video which require this particular piece of gear.

5. Arrange a meeting (or more) to shoot

One but last step before you shoot! Arrange the meeting. By now you should know if you will be able to shoot the whole corporate video in one day. Otherwise, agree on a few dates when it’s most convenient to shoot particular scenes.

Certain employees, offices and devices may not be available at all times.

As an example look at this list of who’s absent during the week when you’d like to shoot:

  • Monday – all working
  • Tuesday – the head accountant is having a day off
  • Wednesday – 2 out of 5 hired graphic designers are on holiday
  • Thursday – 2 out of 5 hired graphic designers are on holiday
  • Friday – 2 out of 5 hired graphic designers are on holiday
  • Saturday – closed
  • Sunday – closed

So according to the information above:

  • Monday is the only possible day to shoot a main walkthrough of the company, if you’re planning to have all of the employees in one shot
  • Monday and Tuesday are the only days when you’ll be able to shoot some footage of the graphic designers, since they’ll be absent until the end of the week
  • You’ll only be able to shoot footage of the main accountand on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

All of the above may be obvious, but it is crucial to get such information from your client. After your first meeting (step 1) you should know what they particularly want you to show in the video.

Ask them this specific question:

On which days between [the timeframe you’re interested in] will we have access to [a room, device, employee they wanted you to include in the video]?

Write down what they say. This should make planning your meetings a piece of cake!

6. Take your notes on set

Take everything you wrote down in the previous steps with you on set. Having your notes in your pocket will make it much easier to come up with alternative shots in case something doesn’t go as planned.

Photo by Joรฃo Silas on Unsplash

For example:

  • Somebody may loose consciousness at work. You’ll then have to shoot in other parts of the company while the paramedics take care of them.
  • Some device may break or randomly stop functioning. You’ll have to shoot it when it’s repaired OR make use of the notes in your backpocket! Maybe you can show a certain quality of the company withot the shot of that device? Your notes will help you out.

In case something goes wrong you should also be able to contact the person who you arranged the meetings with.

You’re done preparing for your corporate video shoot!

If up to now you’ve followed all of the steps above, you should be ready to shoot that corporate video you were so stressed out about. However, if you aren’t on the verge of shooting a video for a company – come back again when the time comes. I’m sure this tutorial will guide you through the not-so-complicated process of preparation for shooting a corporate video. I hope you’ll remember to charge the batteries and format your SD cards ๐Ÿ™‚

7 ways to get stable footage with no budget

7 ways to get stable footage with no budget

We’ve all been there. You’re just tired of how bumpy your footage is. Additionaly you would like to increase the production vallue of your videos. There are numerous camera stabilizers out there like the all-mechanical Glidecam or electronic gimbals like the DJI Ronin. However, you don’t need to spend money to get silky smooth shots with your camera. Everything can be done the DIY way. Here are 7 ways to get stable footage with no budget:

1. Walking smoothly

When you record something, don’t walk like an elephant. Every step will create a wobbly image and you won’t be satisfied with your footage. Instead try bending your knees a little bit more. This will reduce the bumpiness of your footage, since your knees amortize your steps. 

I also found wearing running shoes quite helpful. That’s because they also absorb some of the bumps with their thick sole.

2. Strap stabilization

Man stretching a camera strap
Stretch the strap like this

Fun fact, the DSLR or mirrorless you’re using comes with a stabilizer out of a box. It is the camera strap that you sometimes take off. Now, hang the camera on your neck and apply forward pressure, so that the strap becomes stiff. That’s how you get stable footage in any conditions!

You can also make jib and slider shots using the same technique! Apply forward pressure to your camera body to stiffen the strap. 

Now try moving the camera:

Side to side

This will create a slider shot. There is a particular reason why this technique works so great. Not only does the camera travel smoothy left to right or right to left, but it is also pointing in the same direction throughout the motion! For that reason alone you won’t ever need a short slider for traveling – you can losslessly substitute these slider shots for the shots achieved using this technique!

Vertically

What will this help you accomplish? Exactly, a jib shot with no jib! Unfortunately, this time the strap won’t help us keep the camera pointing the same direction all the time. However, this allows you to tilt the camera during the motion and focus the attention of your audience on a certain subject

Dolly in, dolly out

if you bend your back, you can use the same technique to fake smooth dolly in and dolly out shots

Or combine all of the above

And get some interesting results.

3. Adding weight

The main reason why smartphone footage usually looks shaky compared to what you see in cinemas is the weight of the camera (or the whole rig). Blockbusters are shot using RED and ARRI cameras, which weigh a lot even when unrigged . Compare that to the weight of your DSLR, mirrorless or smartphone camera and the solution comes naturally – add more weight.

It seems counterintuitive, but adding weight to your camera will Make the footage more stable.

Why is that?

To move a larger object you have to apply a greater force. It is easier to knock over a vase than a fridge, or going to an extreme – a building. Therefore, tiny forces, which are responsible for the shakiness of your video will have a harder time trying to move your camera around.

How to add weight to a camera?

The simplest, obvious way is to tie it to something heavy (Maybe an anvil if you have one?)


Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

The optimal way is to keep the new setup functional. Get a cage for your camera. Add a microphone and an external monitor to it. Add a battery pack. All the weight will add up resulting in smoother shots – stable footage.

4. Wide lens

Attaching a wide angle lens is an instant fix for wobbliness in you footage. The cheapest wide angle lens for Canon crop-sensor DSLRs is probably the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. It is enough for shooting outside in natural lighting contitions. However, it is a bit too slow (The aperture doesn’t open wide enough) for indoor and night shots.

Since we’re talking no budget – a cheaper alternative to buying a lens is to simply buy a wide angle converter like the one below:


This particular one screws into a 58mm thread on top of your lens. This means that it’s just right for your Canon 18-55mm kit lens. However, if you’re planning to use it with a lens that has a different thread – you will need to buy a different converter. On the other hand, if the lens has a smaller diameter of the thread – you may use step up rings to attach this particular converter to it. It will make the field of view wider. Therefore the shots will become more stable.

5. Body slider

Man shifting bodyweight holding a DSLR camera
Try it now! You should get the idea quickly.

Did you know that you can use your body as a camera slider? Hold your forearms close to your chest and get a good grip on the camera. Now shift the weight of your body from one leg to the other and BOOM! – You’ve got a slider!

6. Tripod steadicam

Canon DSLR on a tripod
You just pinch it with your thumb an index finger. Don’t grab it with your whole hand!

A friend of mine used this one a lot. If you grab a tripod below its head in two fingers, it will smooth out the motion a bit. Still, it is a good starting point for stabilization in post-production.

7. Monopod jib

Canon DSLR on a monopod
Raise your camera up high and play around with motion!

This one is fun! But be sure that your camera is screwed tightly to the monopod. We’re going to do something risky here.

The trick here is to grab the bottom of your monopod and stick it up in the air. It will give you great elevation and stabilize your shots, since your hands are further from the camera.

To get a jib shot just play around with camera movement. Go down to top, side to side – find something that works for you! 

To sum up. There are a plenty ways to stabilize your shots with little to no money. Stable footage is achievable in plenty of ways. Filmmaking is all about creativity ๐Ÿ˜€

RODE Videomic review after 4 years of usage

RODE Videomic review after 4 years of usage

Today I’m providing you with a review of the RODE Videomic.

Check it out on Amazon here or click on the image below.

So you bought yourself a camera.

You go out to shoot some test footage and it looks wonderful. But then you have to record someone speaking or some fancy ambient sounds and realise that the audio from your internal microphone is really bad. What do you do? You start looking for an external microphone.

There is a vast amount of different microphones on the market. You can get lavaliers, XLR dynamic mics, cardioids, but in my opinion the most versatile choice for everyday videography is a shotgun microphone.

I remember being quite hesitant when I had to choose my first shotgun mic a few years ago. I couldn’t decide between the RODE Videomic and the Videomic Pro.

The two differences between them are that the latter is smaller and provides a stronger, less hissy signal thanks to its built-in preamp.

I eventually made up my mind and bought the RODE Videomic with Rycote Lyre shock mount. Therefore, that’s what I’ll review today ๐Ÿ˜€

Specification of the Videomic:

Recording pattern

The RODE Videomic is an on-camera shotgun microphone. Essentially it is a condenser microphone with a super-cardioid recording pattern, which makes it record more from its front than from the sides and the back – that’s why we call it a shotgun microphone

How it’s powered

The microphone runs on a 9V battery, which lasts for a very long time.

RODE Videomic with a VARTA rechargeable 9V battery
The battery hides under a plastic cover.

It informs you if the battery is dying with a red LED. Still, I’ve survived some shoots with the red LED on all the time, so the microphone notices you quite a bit in advance.

To save money I reccomend buying a rechargeable 9V battery. I use this one and it has never failed me ๐Ÿ™‚

To charge it you’ll need a charger of this kind:

How to connect it to a camera

RODE Videomic plugged into the Canon T3i
The RODE Videomic connects straight into the jack input of your camera, which is usually on one of its sides.

The microphone is connected to your camera of choice with a 3.5 mm jack. Because of that you won’t need any external audio recorder that supports XLR connection. Gone are the times of carrying around tons of gear ๐Ÿ˜€

However, if you are planning to use the RODE Videomic on a boom pole, you need a 3,5 mm jack extension cable like this one I found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y1gGJZ

The other way to achieve portability is to use an external audio recorder. You will however need to sync the audio in post. If you ever encounter any trouble syncing audio in post, I strongly reccomend Red Giant’s Pluraleyes. It is a plugin which has saved me hours of mindless work.

Mounting the RODE Videomic to cameras, tripods and boom poles

The RODE Videomic has a cold shu mount at its bottom. Therefore it can easily be mounted on top of all DSLR and mirrorless cameras, which can be equipped with a flash.

Cold shu on the bottom of the RODE Videomic
The cold shu mount of the RODE Videomic with a threaded 3/8 inch hole.

Additionaly, It has a hole with a3/8 inch thread, which you can use to attach it to microphone stands and boom poles. Unfortunately it isn’t compatible with standard tripods and monopods, which are equipped with a 1/4 inch screw.

If you’re curious how to attach the RODE Videomic to a tripod or a monopod, read about it here:
https://wemakevids.com/how-to-screw-a-shotgun-microphone-onto-a-tripod/

The Rycote Lyre shock mount

I wanted an external mic to separate my microphone from the sounds of the focus ring and tapping my fingers on the camera body. And that’s indeed what I got.

RODE Videomic on top of Canon 600d T3i
RODE Videomic with a Rycote Lyre shock mount on a Canon T3i

The Rycote Lyre suspension system isolates the RODE Videomic from all vibrations transfered from the camera body, tripod and all surroundings. As a result the audio contains little to no unexpectet bumps or crackles.

Additionaly, it is constructed from one piece of hard-wearing thermoplastic, which means that the construction is much more durable than traditional rubber band based microphone shock mounts. I’ve been extensively using mine for the past 4 years and it still holds up just fine.

High-pass / Low-cut filter of the RODE Videomic

It has a broad recording frequency range of 40Hz – 20kHz, which covers most of the hearable audio spectrum. Trust me, it’s all you need.

The RODE Videomic has a handy feature for certain situations when there’s a constant low hum in the background. In such cases it is often very hard to position yourself in such a way that the person you’re interviewing can be heard.

RODE Videomic high-pass filter
The switch at the back in its top position activates a low-cut filter.

On the back of the microphone there is a switch, which activates the built-in high pass filter. It limits the bottom-end of the frequency range to 80 Hz. This feature has saved some of my interviews ๐Ÿ™‚

No built-in pre amp

One of the greatest cons of the RODE Videomic is the lack of built-in pre amp. Because of that that you’ll get a significant amount of hiss in your audio if you set the pre amp gain in your DSLR too high. To solve this problem you may lower the gain of the internal pre amp in your DSLR and increase it in post.

Ideally, use an external recorder like the Zoom H1. And don’t worry about having to sync the audio in post, because you may as well output the audio from the recorder to you camera (The recorder then behaves like a pre amp)

RODE Videomic reduce hiss
Translation: “Audio recording – Manual; Recording level – |–\/-I—-I—-I—-|; Wind filter – off”

Attenuator in the Videomic

RODE even predicted that some people buy these things to record a running jet engine standing right next to it!

They provided two switches in the battery compartment, which reduce the audio level to -10 or -20 dB. This feature came in handy when I was recording drums in a small basement and loud gigs.

Recording a big band in a church with Canon 600d and RODE Videomic
Me recording a big-band with the RODE Videomic to get good reference audio.

Upsides

  • Convenient, all-round microphone
  • High pass filter, which blocks out low, humming noises
  • Great and robust shock mount. Very hard to break.
  • Good audio quality (All in all, it’s a condenser mic)
  • Great value for money
  • Runs for a very long time on a single battery

Downsides

  • It is quite long compared to the RODE Videomic PRO
  • No built in pre amp. Since the ones in most DSLRs are rather hissy, the audio at higher levels may be hissy.
  • It is a bit of a pain in the neck to attach it to tripods and monopods

So do I reccomend it?

Yes, I do. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do – records good quality audio of what’s in front of the camera.

I’ve been using it for solid 4 years now and the battery ran out once. It happened, because I was too lazy to charge it. I went to 2 shoots with the red warning light on and the mic didn’t make it through the second shoot.

It is a great value for money product, which will vastly improve the audio in your videos. And if anything breaks, since all things break, there is a 10 year warranty on it.

First photo is by Oziel Gรณmez on Unsplash

How to screw a shotgun microphone onto a tripod

How to screw a shotgun microphone onto a tripod

Have you ever been shocked that the screw in the quick release plate of your tripod is too small and won’t screw into a shotgun microphone like the RODE Videomic or a tripod head?

Whatever it is that you’re having a hard time with – I’ve already been through that problem. It just won’t screw in! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The reason why it won’t:

The screw on top of you tripod is 1/4 inch in diameter, wheras the the threaded hole you’re having a hard time with is 3/8 inch in diameter. More specifically it is a 3/8-16 screw, which stands for 3/8 inch in diameter and 16 threads per inch of its height.

Why are there two types of screws for video gear?

3/8 inch is a standard thread for attaching tripod heads to their legs. For any tripod, that has a head detachable from the legs, or for companies, which sell tripod legs and heads separately – the standard bolt to tighten the kit together is the 3/8-16 screw .

The exceptions for this are:

  • When the camera must be attachable even without a proper tripod head screwed on. Monopods are a great example of such use. Freelancers shooting media coverage who you often see on public events don’t usually put a head on a monopod. Since it is basically a metal rod, it allows for quick and easy camera pans and tilts. No tripod head needed.
  • When the legs and the head are very small and compact.

In these cases the base – be it the tripod legs or a monopod – is equipped with the 1/4-20 screw you’re used to. Analogously as for the 3/8-16 bolt, 1/4 is the diameter of the screw in inches and 20 is the number of threads per inch.

Okay, but how do I screw a 1/4 inch screw into a 3/8 inch hole?

You are going to need a screw converter/thread reducer – there are a lot of names for these.

I recommend buying them in packs, because if you only have one and loose it – you are in trouble. I had a few shoots when I couldn’t use my shotgun microphone on a monopod (to serve as a boompole).

Easy to unscrew

I recommend this kind of converters, since they have a groove on one end. You use it to screw the adapter out if you get it too far in.

Get it here on Amazon:

Foto&Tech 5 Pieces Metal 1/4″ to 3/8″ Convert Screw Adapter for Tripod Monopod Ballhead DSLR SLR

I personally used it to attach my RODE Videomic to a monopod, which had a 1/4 inch screw on top of it. It was a cheap monopod and unfortunately it didn’t stand the test of time (or more probably of my own stupidity ๐Ÿ˜› ) I used it to support one end of a 6kg video slider, which resulted in the slider ripping the 1/4 inch mount off the monopod. They say we learn on our own mistakes ๐Ÿ™‚

Picture of the 1/4 to 3/8 inch screw converter was taken by
https://www.flickr.com/photos/qubodup/

and is licensed under:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Are you a filmmaker lost in the jungle?

Are you a filmmaker lost in the jungle?

In the jungle of unordered information on the Internet? Are you looking for a hub, where all the helpful information can be found? With filmmaking, videography, cinematography – call it what you want – the place is HERE ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been a freelance videographer for several years and from my own experience I know that we often tend to overthink stuff. Therefore, simple problems require us – filmmakers – a lot of time to solve. Up to now I have also shot A LOT of non-commercial, pure fun videos and because of that I know quite a few tricks and tips on how to get your production value UP, while keeping the cost DOWN.

What does it mean?

I’ll be posting tons of helpful tips on how to get different effects done:

  • more quickly,
  • more easily,
  • a lot faster,
  • in a fun way c:

There will also be posts related to everyday problems a videographer encounters, like for example “how to prepare for shooting a corporate video?”

New article will be coming in every week, so stay tuned!

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash